In a season when Spurs have aimed to reclaim identity, we are still left searching. We've had teasers, pockets of sustained style but Mauricio Pochettino remains cornered whilst fighting off Tottenham's past transfer indiscretions. I have no time for comparisons. To suggest why he hasn't impacted us in the same way Ronald Koeman has for Southampton is irrelevant. Expectations as well as infrastructure should never be discounted. Hence why we poached Paul Mitchell to bring his analytical ethics to suppress are often marquee obsessed player policy.
Poch isn't beyond criticism. His substitutions are not game-changing. He doesn't rotate often enough. He drops players from the starting line-up and changes positional responsibilities breeding inconsistency. He leaves some players out on the fringe for an age, almost wastefully when considering selection options. Each one of these can also be countered, not out of the necessity to blindly support the coach but because, well, reality bites.
Substitutions not game-changing? Exactly who do we have on the bench to change a game? Paulinho? So many of our players that sit and watch from the dug-out are just about competent when coming on, not because they seek to excel at what they're meant to be doing but because they offer basic team support. Roberto Soldado is meant to score us goals, comes on and links up play. Is that the pinnacle of his skill set? The likes of Andros Townsend (when he doesn't start) does offer us alternative endeavour, but it's direct rather than acute.
He doesn't rotate? This one is split 50/50. On paper, it looks like we have depth but in actuality, we don't. There's no disputing that the manner in which training and match day preparation is handled by Poch and his staff is excellent. Our injury issues are non-existent in comparison to the past. Our fitness levels have been astonishing (late goals anyone?) but having played more games than most, we're fatigued. By not rotating, we build assured momentum. By not rotating, those starting with a cameo are left detached from fluidity. Federico Fazio hasn't been seen for three months. We haven't seen him, he didn't see Christian Benteke. By not rotating, we end up running out of steam.
Sometimes certain selections work. Certain players work well with others when lined up in a specific formation. Then it's changed up again rather than perhaps allowing time to bond that formation further. This isn't a question of rotation but perhaps thanks to the inconsistency of certain players, when they do perform well, Poch might not believe they can offer anything more than a minor purple patch of form. Mousa Dembele is the poster boy for this. Remember his run of games in a more forward role? Reliability isn't an all encompassing attribute we possess. Hence the changes.
As for players out on the fringe, Benji Stambouli has been sparingly used. He's fairly dependable yet rarely called upon. So why was he signed exactly?
Poch recently summed it up by alluding to the fact that the squad he has doesn't fit the (pressing) philosophy he preaches. Makes me wonder just how long this transitional season(s) will last.